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Humble Hero

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    Angels Would Gladly Have Delivered Christ

    The angels of heaven longed to deliver Christ. Watching the shameful scene, how easily could they have consumed the adversaries of God! But God commanded them not to. It was part of Jesus’ mission to bear in His humanity all the abuse that human beings could heap on Him.HH 323.5

    Christ had said nothing that could give His accusers an advantage, yet He was bound, to signify that He was condemned. There must, however, be the form of a legal trial. This the authorities were determined to accomplish quickly. They knew the high regard the people had for Jesus, and they feared a rescue attempt. Again, if the execution did not happen right away, there would be a week’s delay because of the Passover. This might defeat their plans. During a week’s delay, a reaction would likely set in. The better part of the people would come forward with testimony to vindicate Him, bringing to light the mighty works He had done. The Sanhedrin’s proceedings would be condemned, and Jesus would be set free. So the priests and rulers determined that before their intentions could become known, Jesus must be delivered into the hands of the Romans.HH 323.6

    But first, they had to find an accusation. They had gained nothing so far. Annas ordered Jesus to be taken to Caiaphas. Though lacking in force of character, Caiaphas was fully as heartless and as willing to use any means necessary as was Annas. It was now early morning and dark. By torches and lanterns, the armed band with their Prisoner proceeded to the high priest’s palace. While the Sanhedrin were coming together, Annas and Caiaphas again questioned Jesus, but without success.HH 324.1

    In the judgment hall, Caiaphas took his seat as presiding officer. On either side were the judges and those specially interested in the trial. Roman soldiers were on the platform below the throne. At the foot of the throne stood Jesus. The excitement was intense. Of all the crowd, He alone was calm and serene.HH 324.2

    Caiaphas had thought of Jesus as his rival. The people were eager to hear the Savior, and this prompted the bitter jealousy of the high priest. But now, as Caiaphas looked at the prisoner, he was struck with admiration for His noble, dignified bearing. A conviction came over him that this man was like God. The next instant he banished the thought and, in haughty tones, demanded that Jesus work one of His mighty miracles. But the Savior acted as though He had not even heard the words. The question arose in the minds of that hardened crowd, Should this man of godlike presence be condemned as a criminal?HH 324.3

    The enemies of Jesus were perplexed. They did not know how to bring about His condemnation. Caiaphas wanted to avoid stirring up conflict. There were plenty of witnesses to prove that Christ had called the priests and scribes hypocrites and murderers, but this was not useful to bring out. Such testimony would have no weight with the Romans. There was much evidence that Jesus had spoken irreverently of many of the Jews’ regulations. This evidence also would have no weight with the Romans. Christ’s enemies did not dare to accuse Him of Sabbath breaking, since an examination would bring to light His miracles of healing.HH 324.4

    The leaders had bribed false witnesses to accuse Jesus of trying to establish a separate government. But their testimony turned out to be vague and contradictory. Under examination they falsified their own statements.HH 324.5

    Early in His ministry Christ had said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” In this way He had foretold His own death and resurrection. “He was speaking of the temple of His body.” John 2:19, 21. Of all that Christ had said, the priests could find nothing to use against Him except this. The Romans had engaged in rebuilding and beautifying the temple, and they took great pride in it. If anyone showed contempt for it, they would be offended. Here Romans and Jews had common ground, for all regarded the temple with great respect.HH 324.6

    One witness who had been bribed to accuse Jesus declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’ “ If the witness had reported Christ’s words exactly as He spoke them, they would not have brought about His condemnation even by the Sanhedrin. His declaration would only have indicated an unreasonable, boastful spirit, but not blasphemy. Even as the false witnesses misrepresented His words, they contained nothing the Romans regarded as a crime worthy of death.HH 324.7

    At last Jesus’ accusers were entangled, confused, and angry. It seemed that their plottings were going to fail. Caiaphas was desperate. He had only one last resort—to force Christ to condemn Himself. The high priest stood up suddenly from the judgment seat, his face contorted with passion. “Do You answer nothing?” he exclaimed. “What is it these men testify against You?” Jesus remained silent.HH 325.1

    He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
    Yet He opened not His mouth;
    He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
    And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    So He opened not His mouth.
    Isaiah 53:7
    HH 325.2

    Finally, Caiaphas addressed Jesus in the form of a solemn oath: “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”HH 325.3

    To this appeal Christ could not remain silent. He knew that to answer now would make His death certain. But the appeal came from the highest acknowledged authority of the nation and in the name of the Most High. He must plainly declare His character and mission. Jesus had said to His disciples, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32. Now by His own example He repeated the lesson.HH 325.4

    Every eye was focused on Jesus’ face as He answered, “It is as you said.” A heavenly light seemed to illuminate His pale features as He added, “Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” For a moment the high priest trembled before the penetrating eyes of the Savior. Never from then on did he forget that searching glance of the persecuted Son of God.HH 325.5

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